Smart growth news – December 13

Imagining a City Without Its Public Transportation
The Atlantic Cities, December 12, 2011
Officials from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are out in the city all the time talking about the costs of the capital region’s transit system – the money it takes to run the thing, the investments required to expand service and build new lines, and the fares needed to pay for it all. But no one talks much about the benefits, the real benefits, not just for faster commuting times, but for the region on the whole.

Study: As Gas Prices Rise, Americans Drive Less And Seek Public Transit
Gas 2.0, December 12, 2011
A new study by Bradley Lane of the University of Texas at El Paso has found a strong link between gas prices and shifts in American transit ridership. Bradley Lane’s study concluded that for every 10% increase in the cost of fuel there was a 4% increase in bus ridership and an 8% increase in rail travel.

Transit’s Not Sucking the Taxpayer Dry — Roads Are
Streetsblog, December 12, 2011
“Taxpayers cover costs that should be borne by road users,” asserts the State Smart Transportation Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Road subsidies push up tax rates, squeeze government services, and skew the market for transportation.” SSTI, along with the smart growth group 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin, published a study in October showing that “between 41 and 55 percent of [Wisconsin’s] road money comes from non-users.”

Has the sun set on suburban sprawl in California?
Switchboard blog, December 12, 2011
A new study issued today by the Urban Land Institute confirms what many of us living in California already know–sprawl has had its heyday, and more and more people are choosing to live closer to where they work and play. The study finds that Generations X and Y–which will dominate market demand in the coming decades– don’t want to live in far flung housing developments that require a car and long commutes to work, school or to run errands.

Local news

Downtown Salina businesses thriving in weak economy
KSN 3 (Kan.), December 12, 2011
Downtown Salina is open for business, and new stores are cropping up across the heart the of the city. … “It’s very exciting as a person who deals with economic revitalization in the area. But, it’s also exciting for the community to see that they still can invest in a story part of the community.”

Bethel wants downtown transit district
The News-Times (Conn.), December 13, 2011
This is a town that grew around its train station, which was built on Depot Place in 1852, burned down and replaced in 1899, and moved to Durant Street in 1996. Now some town officials are working toward transit-oriented development, which would rezone 133 acres around the station for mixed residential, retail and commercial development.

Foes, supporters clash over Plan Maryland
Baltimore Sun, December 12, 2011
The plan seeks to bring together in one document the rules governing several different programs associated with the concept of Smart Growth, which was adopted as state policy in 1997 through a landmark bill pushed through the legislature by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Critics Contend New Bill Imperils Water Quality, Encourages Sprawl
NJ Spotlight, December 13, 2011
If approved before a new legislature is sworn in, its passage would mark the latest twist in a long effort to allow sewer service expansions in the state, an issue that is critical not only to economic development, but also to preservation of open space and farmland in a state fast losing both.

Town managers learn of new way of seeing development
Lewiston Sun Journal (Maine), December 13, 2011
Manoian was the technical consultant to the town of Standish, the first town in Maine to adopt form-based coding. “Their vision was laid out, but their zoning wouldn’t allow them to do it,” he said. Standish adopted the codes for its center earlier this year, after a developer proposed building a gas station and fuel delivery depot in the center of town.